The IEA defines energy security as the uninterrupted availability of energy sources at an affordable price. Energy security has many aspects: long-term energy security mainly deals with timely investments to supply energy in line with economic developments and environmental needs. On the other hand, short-term energy security focuses on the ability of the energy system to react promptly to sudden changes in the supply-demand balance.

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The IEA's role in global energy security

Emergency response is still one of the main pillars of the IEA. Member countries are required to meet two key obligations: to hold oil stocks equivalent to at least 90 days of thei previous year's net oil imports; and to maintain emergency response measures that can contribute to an IEA collective action in the event of a severe oil supply disruption. Response measures include stockdraw, demand restraint, fuel switching and surge oil production.

Rapid response to energy supply emergencies

The IEA Governing Board, a body comprising individuals at the ministerial or senior official level, defines and determines the implementation of IEA policies. Under the Governing Board, the Standing Group on Emergency Questions (SEQ) is responsible for all aspects of the emergency response. The SEQ takes advice from the Industry Advisory Board (IAB) which is composed of experts from oil companies operating worldwide. As part of its mandate, the SEQ conducts regular reviews (on a five-year cycle) of the emergency response mechanisms of member countries, ensuring the overall preparedness of the IEA for a rapid response to energy supply emergencies. These reviews help verify that emergency response capabilities have adapted adequately to changes in energy market conditions. The Agency expanded these reviews to cover natural gas security in addition to oil for the 2008 – 2012 review cycle, and recently also incorporated electricity security as part of its assessments for the latest review cycle which began in October 2013.

Dialogue and information sharing on oil security

Recognising that oil consumption and net imports in some non-IEA countries are increasing rapidly, the IEA promotes dialogue and information sharing on oil security policies and shares information and experience about creating national strategic oil stocks with key transition and emerging economies, such as China, India and countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Expanding international co-operation with all players in the global energy markets to improve market transparency through the collection of more accurate and timely data is also a critical component of IEA work towards greater energy security.

Energy Supply Security: Emergency Response of IEA Countries

The report Energy Supply Security: Emergency Response of IEA Countries 2014 reflects the results of the latest emergency response review cycle. It draws attention to significant changes arising since the previous cycle of reviews and the last edition (IEA, 2007) of this publication. The findings illustrate the robustness of IEA emergency response systems. They also demonstrate the value of the periodic reviews as a means of fine-tuning specific response mechanisms in order to mitigate the effects of a shortfall in oil or natural gas supply. Most importantly, the report highlights the reasons why being prepared is so important for the future.

Our focus

World energy markets continue to be vulnerable to disruptions precipitated by events ranging from geo-political strife to natural disasters. As oil demand and imports continue to grow, the IEA emergency response capability will remain essential. But energy security concerns go beyond oil.

The Ukraine-Russia gas dispute in January 2009 caused the largest natural gas supply crisis in Europe’s history. With increasingly integrated electricity grids, blackouts can cascade and affect multiple economies simultaneously. The IEA is working to identify measures to prevent and react to supply disruptions across all sources of energy.

Fast facts

  • USD 3.5 trillion The amount the review of member countries’ abilities to react quickly and effectively to significant energy supply disruptions valued the stockpiles’ global benefits at over 30 years
  • USD 41 per yearEach barrel a country stores provides net global benefits averaging at least USD 41 per year after storage cost